J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

It is the one year anniversary of The Scavenger and I can hardly believe it. I remember for months counting down the day that my debut novel went live on Amazon. 365 days later, the excitement of seeing my book in my reader’s hands still hasn’t left. I learn new things every day and I couldn’t have asked for a better author experience.

That being said, as with any debut novel, I hit some snags along the way. I discuss these learning experiences in my newest YouTube video. Check it out HERE!

In order to make this day extra special, I decided to do something special just for my readers. My next novel, Missing Her, is coming out this coming spring. I know there were many fans that were disappointed to hear that I had no plans of writing a sequel to The Scavenger.

But do not fear! In celebration of the one year anniversary and in celebration of my awesome readers, I have written an epilogue for The Scavenger. This is not fan-fiction or anything along those lines. What you’re about to read is actually what happened to Samuel and Catherine in the years that followed the end of my debut novel.

I’ve had this idea tucked in the back of my head for some time now. Even before I had people asking for a sequel, I knew I wanted to write this scene. I hope you enjoy!

*** The following contains spoilers for The Scavenger. You have been warned! ****


As soon as I saw her, every muscle in my body locked and froze. Even though it had been nearly twenty years since we stood face to face, it seemed like yesterday. The light crow’s-feet kissing the outsides of her eyes and the smile lines carved into her cheeks weren’t able to keep the flood of memories at bay.

Catherine Linnel. In high school, I had nearly ruined her life. That was all behind me now. I had told myself, promised myself that I had moved on. But here she was, standing on the sun-bleached concrete spotted with fallen leaves, having a conversation with a man while she absent-mindedly pushed a stroller with one hand.

Is this a dream? At first I thought it had to be, or that I was projecting long-repressed memories onto the face of a stranger. That would be the easy explanation. I should’ve just turned and walked to the office, where I was supposed to be headed, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I just stood there, staring at my memory manifested.

As if she could feel my gaze upon her, Catherine looked over her left shoulder, then her right, before her eyes locked with mine. When I saw the shocked expression that lit her face, I knew she recognized me, too. The man beside her looked at her strangely, surprised by her sudden stiffness, before following her gaze to meet mine.

We stood there, cars whipping past every few seconds on the Seattle street between us. I watched Catherine turn to the man and place a hand on his shoulder. She leaned in, said something in his ear. His eyebrows crinkled in confusion. But she turned away, stepping up to the crosswalk, and looked both ways. Her steps were sure as she crossed the street and strode to stand no more than a yard in front of me.

Now that she was closer, I could really see how time had changed her. The roots of her black hair were silvered and shone in the light. Her eyes seemed wider, smarter, housing years of wisdom.

A golden band encircled her left ring-finger.

“Catherine?” I breathed, still unsure as to whether or not she was really standing before me. She nodded, opened her mouth, then closed it, as if she were debating on asking a question. Once I realized what that question was, I quickly provided, “My name is Trevor.” Now, whispered the air between us. I wasn’t always ‘Trevor.’ I used to be a teenager living in New York. I used to be a Scavenger. But after that fateful day on the road, I vowed myself to a new beginning. I changed my name, my home — my life. And here I was, decades later, the past having caught up to me at last.

Catherine licked her lips, and I could tell she was mulling over her words. She took a breath before speaking. “How have you been?” 

It was such a mundane question, but I couldn’t help but feel my heart swell. Even though her outer appearance had changed, her voice had remained nearly identical to what I remembered. “I’ve been well,” I replied, and it was the truth. Once I had rid myself of the drug market, I stayed out of it. I spent a few months in juvie, but I didn’t complain. It felt good to repent for my sins. But I knew that Catherine didn’t want to hear all that, so I passed the question back to her. “How are you?”

“I’m good.” She turned her head to look at the man across the street. He was pushing the stroller now, rocking it back and forth. The reassuring smile she gave him wasn’t lost on me before she turned to face me again. “Peter and I have been married for almost five years. I have a daughter, now, too. Nicole.”

I smiled. “Beautiful name.” After a brief hesitation, I felt confident enough to ask, “If you don’t mind my asking . . . why are you here?”

“I’m visiting Peter’s extended family. We’re taking a tour of the city to celebrate our anniversary.” She pulled her jacket closer to her to fend off the fall chill. “Do you live here now?”

“Yes.” I pointed down the street ahead of me. “I’m a manager at a law firm a few blocks down. Once I finished college, I realized that I wanted to spend my time helping others and working with the justice system.”

Catherine smiled lightly, and I thought I saw a glint of relief in her eyes. “I ended up studying business. Peter and I co-own a small clothing store that donates a portion of what we earn to the homeless of New York.”

“That’s . . . really awesome.” I was about to open my mouth again when I heard a small shout.

“Mommy!” Catherine spun around just in time to catch the little girl as she launched herself into her mother’s arms. Hurrying after her was the man from across the street.

“I’m sorry,” he said, pulling the stroller to a stop in front of him. “She wouldn’t stop asking for you.”

“It’s okay,” Catherine replied smoothly. “We’re almost finished.” She turned to me again, and I was able to see her daughter clearly. She had her mother’s hair, rich and dark, and from what I could tell, her father’s eyes, a beautiful hazel. When the child noticed me looking, she nuzzled her head into her mother’s shoulder, embarrassed by the attention.

“Well,” I began, taking a tentative step back. “I’ll leave you be.” Looking to Peter, I added, “Sorry for taking your time.”

“No worry at all,” Catherine replied. There was a smile on her lips. “I’m glad I got to see you again . . . Trevor.”

Even though I had used the name for years and had long since gotten used to responding to it, when I heard her say it, it somehow sounded wrong. But it didn’t matter. What mattered was the smile on her face, the child in her arms, and the contentedness on her face. Things could’ve been so different. As I watched her retreating figure, the possibilities flashed behind my eyes. A hint of regret tinged my thoughts, but then I saw Nicole lift her head from behind her mother to look back at me. Her chubby hand waved to me in farewell.

No, I thought, unable to stop the smile from stretching across my face. This was all for the best. I raised my hand to the child, then turned away, finally at peace and ready to continue our lives apart.

2 thoughts on “One Year Anniversary and Epilogue: The Scavenger

  1. lauraw32 says:

    Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary!


  2. jon287 says:

    Bitter sweet, but realistic.


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